NOVATO, Calif. (KTVU) - Struggling sporting goods chain store, Sports Authority, will soon be no more and will close 32 Bay Area stores.
The store is already in bankruptcy court has indicated it is unable to reorganize and will most likely close all 450 of its locations nationwide.
Without a rescue, all stores may liquidate and close by mid-May.
"Part of the problem is they're so big, turning them around is like turning an oil tanker," Prof. Roy Gattinella told KTVU.
Gatinella is a business marketing professor at Santa Rosa Junior College.
"Plus these stores, they have no passion anymore, you walk in and it's kind of dead," Gatinella added.
14,000 jobs are at stake, two-thirds of them part time.
Observers say that casual workforce contributes to the store's woes too.
"Knowledge and expertise are especially important in sports like soccer, running, tennis and golf," retailer Rhonda Roman told KTVU.
Roman has owned a Santa Rosa running store, Fleet Feet Sports, for 18 years. She requires new employees to try on every style of shoe in stock as part of their training, so they know what they're selling.
Roman is not surprised Sports Authority is in trouble.
"They don't provide the level of service and expertise. I mean, our staff gets 200 hours of training before they can even hit the floor," she noted.
Sports enthusiasts may not want to shop for cleats next to the canoes and camping gear.
I bought this waist trainer and this yoga mat, and I’m going to go back and get a bathing suit. For fans of the store: Disappointment. They appreciate the convenience and variety.
“We're really bummed about it. We don't want it to close, we like going here. It's a good store,” said Taylor Pewitt, a sports authority customer. He said he wasn’t sure where he’ll go instead.
Analysts predict Dick's Sporting Goods with its similar concept will inherit much of the foot traffic.
Founded on the East Coast, it's expanding fast, and not saddled by a billion dollar debt like Sports Authority.
“I bought shoes there, I bought sneakers there, I bought sportswear there. If I needed something, they were really the place to go,” said Lori Schifrin another Sports Authority customer. “It's very sad. It's very out of the blue.”
But in fact the retailer has been sinking for a while, and hasn't managed to find a buyer or more loans to restructure. The chain's size is part of the problem.
These days to compete with online shopping and specialty retailers, the big box have to think out of the box.
“You have to make it fun. There has to be events, there has to be a culture, you have to support the community and there has to be a passion for the products you sell,” says Gattinella.
The professor says this is part of the trend that took Mervyn’s, Borders and Circuit City. Next he predicts Sears.
"Where America shops" is the slogan, but the only the only problem is, they’re not shopping there anymore.